State election commissioner Manoj Kumar has instructed Uttar Pradesh police and administrative officials of 20 districts to keep a close watch on elements likely to cause disturbance in the third phase of the ongoing panchayat elections on April 26. Kumar said on Friday that polling booths in sensitive areas should be closely monitored and strict action should be taken against those who spread anarchy so that no untoward incident occurs.
Elections for 58,189 village panchayats of Uttar Pradesh are taking place in four phases, between April 15 and 29, with the counting of votes scheduled for May 2. The polls will be a key test of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government’s popularity, and an opportunity for opposition parties to gauge the public mood, particularly as they come against the backdrop of persisting farmers’ protests in the country that have also gripped parts of UP.
While reviewing the preparations for polling through videoconferencing with the police and administration officials of the 20 districts where third phase polling will be held, the state election commissioner said that by strictly following the instructions given to prevent the Covid-19 infection, it would be ensured that voters do not face any inconvenience. He said that every booth should be inspected and such a system set up so that there is no need for repolling anywhere. He directed that at every polling booth, according to the need, adequate arrangements of sanitisers, masks, etc, should be made and polling should be conducted while maintaining social distancing.
Uttar Pradesh got as many as 34,379 new Covid-19 cases, pushing the infection tally to 9,76,765, the state health bulletin reported on Thursday, in its highest single-day spike.
Kumar also instructed that the observers posted in the respective districts should reach the districts as soon as possible and submit their reports to the commission.
Polling for the third phase of the panchayat polls will be held in Amethi, Unnao, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kasganj, Chandauli, Jalaun, Deoria, Pilibhit, Fatehpur, Firozabad, Balrampur, Ballia, Barabanki, Meerut, Moradabad, Mirzapur, Shamli, Siddharthnagar and Hamirpur. Voting will be carried out for the posts of 748 zilla panchayat members, 1,8530 kshetra panchayat members, 14,379 gram pradhans and 1,80,473 gram panchayat members. On April 26, between 7 am and 6 pm, a total of 3,05,71,613 voters will have the opportunity to cast their ballot at 49,789 polling booths.